Star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore would look to get their mojo back when they face struggling Kolkata Knight Riders who could be set for something of a overhaul in a bid to revive their season when the teams clash in the Indian Premier League match in Ahmedabad on Monday.
In what was a passionate post-match press conference, KKR coach Brendon McCullum, promised some changes in the team combination. “If you can’t change the man, change the man,” he said, expressing disappointment about the lack of aggression in his team’s batting.
KKR vs RCB head to head
|Matches||KKR won||RCB won|
From leading the table with four wins on the trot, the Virat Kohli-led team have hit a speed bump, slipping to third spot at the halfway stage after suffering two defeats from their last three matches.
In fact, it could have well been three losses in a row if pacer Mohammed Siraj had not defended 14 runs in the final over against Delhi Capitals’ explosive duo of Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer.
The onus would once be on their famed batting lineup of Kohli, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell to start firing once again and put pressure on the KKR batsmen.
Talented opener Devdutt Padikkal would also be keen to replicate the form he showed in Mumbai when he slammed a superb century. A collective batting display has been missing from the last few games for RCB as the win against DC was largely, again, due to AB de Villiers.
|Position||Team||Last 5 matches, most recent first|
|3||Royal Challengers Bangalore||L W L W W|
|7||Kolkata Knight Riders||L W L L L|
Having started the season with much promise under Eoin Morgan, KKR so far have failed to inspire, suffering five defeats in seven matches. They are at the seventh spot in the eight-team table, staring at early elimination for a third season in a row.
The biggest letdown for KKR this season has been their top-order batting as the top three Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi have failed to give the team a decent start, and it is an area that seemed to have upset McCullum the most.
Supremely-talented Gill is struggling in the T20 scheme of things and has failed to convert his starts at the top (or unable to shift through gears), while the likes of Nitish Rana and Rahul Tripathi have been patchy.
McCullum had questioned their batsmen’s “intent” after they posted a below-par 154/6 to go down to Delhi Capitals by seven wickets in their last match.
At the same stage, under Dinesh Karthik in IPL 2020 in UAE, the team had fared a shade better with four wins and three defeats, before he relinquished the captaincy to let English World Cup-winning skipper Morgan lead the side.
Given the current scenario, the Morgan-McCullum duo need to take some tough calls with regards to the top-order. New recruit Karun Nair who has a strike rate of 155.49 and has two centuries as a T20 opener could be an option but his record in the IPL doesn’t quite inspire confidence. They also have uncapped talented batsman Venkatesh Iyer. The problem facing KKR is that a change of personnel to bring in overseas players from the bench (like Tim Seifert or Lockie Ferguson) would require a change in their overseas combination. Only Sunil Narine appears expendable at the moment in that regard, with Harbhajan Singh’s bowling as an option to draft Seifert at the top of the order.
The bowling on the other hand has been alright, especially the spin duo of Narine and Varun Chakravarthy. Pat Cummins, too, has been among the wickets. Their overs against the likes of Kohli, De Villiers and Maxwell would be key as they look to avenge their first leg defeat.
KKR: Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Rahul Tripathi, Varun Chakravarthy, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Harbhajan Singh, Karun Nair, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer and Pawan Negi.
RCB: Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers (W), Devdutt Padikkal, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Pavan Deshpande, Shahbaz Ahmed, MS Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Daniel Sams, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Dan Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, K S Bharat and Finn Allen.
Match starts: 7.30pm IST.
With PTI inputs